Spiritual evolution or downfall

The following is an excerpt of the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Radhikaji from her forthcoming book to be published in 2017. Chapter 2 Verses 55-68 is covered in this article.

Verse 55-57: Stithaprajna, One established in the Self

In verse 54, Arjuna wants to know how to recognize a person who has abandoned all desires, who is established in the Self,  a person of stable wisdom: stithaprajna.

Until you are completely established in the Self, there is a chance, that one can fall in to a downward spiral leading away from enlightenment towards lower levels of consciousness. One  who is established in the Self has become a Witness, this person would not be agitated by sorrows nor attracted to pleasure. Does it mean he has no fears, no anger? Fear, anger, attachment, aversion and other qualities may be there in chitta, but he remains established in the Self, always witnessing. This is Sakshi bhava or Sakshatkara. 

Verse 58: Food for Thought

Sri Krishna elaborates on the process of how one becomes a Witness. The senses withdraw from the objects of the world, like a tortoise withdraws its limbs. When the mind is not pulled outwards, it is very contemplative. If we would be able to withdraw inward then we would naturally and spontaneously attain a contemplative state. However, the senses are very powerful in spite of all our efforts to train them. We see something interesting, we are drawn to it. When we hear music, the senses immediately engage with it. This verse is talking about pratyahara, the fifth limb of Ashtangayoga. 

The word Pratyahara is a combination of two words Prati and Ahara. Prati means "opposed to, against". It can be compared to the English prefix "anti". Ahara means "food". Thus Pratayahara means that "which is against food".  What is this food, that the yogis oppose? It is food for thought! 

The senses provide the mind with stimuli that fuel the thought process. The sense of smell, for example, is a powerful emotional stimulant. The smell of wet earth brings with it a range of feelings, while the smell of garbage brings aversion and other negative thoughts. Just a whiff of perfume may flood the mind with memories of an old friend. The senses have their own habits, developed over the years, that pull the mind outward. With knowledge and practice we can help the senses to break those old habits. We can do this by first, studying the subtle aspects of the senses, then gradually guiding them. 

Indriyas: The 5 Cognitive Senses and the 5 Organs of Action

The Indriyas are the 5 cognitive senses as well as the 5 organs of action. Through the cognitive senses we receive data from the world and using the organs of action we communicate with our environment. 

The 5 Cognitive Senses are:

• Sight

• Hearing

• Smelling

• Taste

• Touch

The 5 Organs of Action are:

• Speech

• Locomotion

• Grasping

• Procreation

• Elimination

The study of the senses brings us progressively higher levels of insights into the nature of the mind and the senses, it also makes us aware of their habits. When we observe ourselves we will discover much about our sensory habits. You may learn that you have a sensual nature or that you talk too much. It is important that you be gentle with yourself. Do not condemn yourself, do not hurt yourself with guilt and other self-deprecatory emotions; they are not useful. Having determined the habits of the Manas and the senses, discipline them gently with understanding and convince them to follow Buddhi. 

Verses 59-61 Habits and Desires

The first kosha is the Annamaya kosha. Anna is food. Pratyahara means "against food". What is this food?  The world and worldly objects are referred to as food. Everything is food. This world, all the stimuli, are food for the mind to contemplate upon and the senses feast on the food of worldly objects. 

In the verse 59 the Sanskrit word rasa is used. Rasa means taste, but it also means juice. When you have acquired a taste for something it means you want more, so rasa is another word for desire.

The senses develop strong habits. For instance, you may have formed a habit of watching television 8 o'clock in the evening. You do not even think about it anymore, around that time you unconsciously walk towards your television and switch it on. If you would examine your thoughts and actions you would discover that you do not really want to watch television. Perhaps you would rather do something else but the unconscious habit seems too strong to break. Through contemplation with analysis we are able to study our actions, thoughts and desires and notice a deep divide in them. It is not unusual that we desire something but act in a complete different way. These habits come from the senses. 

What happens if even the desire disappears? Desires are at a deep unconscious level. This can only happen if the samskaras or impression loses its hold. When you have seen the supreme One, this pure Consciousness, then desire attenuates until you're finally established in the Self. An intelligent person, who has had a glimpse of the supreme Self, would endeavor to train the  turbulent senses and keep his mind joined in yoga, until he is established in the Self.

Verses 62-63 A dull Buddhi

While verses  59-61 describe the process of how one becomes  a Witness, verses 62-63 describe the opposite. 

No one meditates upon worldly objects, but our minds are constantly preoccupied with worldly objects. When the mind remains preoccupied with worldly objects, your senses keep going out to these objects again and again.  The habit of the senses to engage with the worldly objects gets stronger. We are thinking about, how we shall get a car, a house or a job. This is a preoccupation with external and transient things constantly pulls us outward.

Verses 64-65 Prasadam or Grace

The Witness may enjoy the objects of the world without attachment and without aversion. This is not tyaga since you do not have to renounce the worldly objects themselves.  This is vairagya. It means you enjoy these objects without raga dvesha, attachment or aversion, since nothing belongs to you. One who is established in the Self, receives prasadam. Prasadam is that which comes from God, a gift. Prasadam is attaining the state of union, a state of eternal joy or grace. When you receive this prasadam or grace, sorrows disappear.

Verse 66-68 Divided and scattered mind

This group of verses 66-68 describe the result of the downfall. If there is no discriminative wisdom, Buddhi you cannot have a one pointed mind. If the antahkarana is not coordinated or one-pointed  there is no bhavana, bhava. Bhavana is devotion, the amrita or nectar that flows when you are one pointed. If there is no bhava, then there is no peace and if there is no peace how can you be happy. 

Array

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